Author Topic: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History  (Read 631 times)

Offline Tanselman

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A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« on: April 02, 2024, 07:37:52 AM »
I collect Kentucky's early firearms and powder horns and have seen or owned a lot of them. Recently an interesting Kentucky-related horn showed up on EBAY, and our host, Tim Crosby, made me aware of it. I purchased it but have not received it yet. I'm posting the seller's images, which he is OK with since he and I have discussed the horn and its provenance. I'd like to share a frontier effort to recreate a "high priced" York horn way out in Kentucky. In discussing the horn with the seller, he told me who had originally collected the horn "way back when" and what was known about the horn at that time. It originally came out of an old Graham family estate sale in Franklin County, Kentucky.

The name "Graham" probably doesn't resonate with non-Kentucky collectors, but to Kentucky collectors it's the name of a famous gunsmithing family in central Kentucky that lived in Franklin County. The senior William Graham was one of the first gunsmiths to work in the Bluegrass area, and several of his sons became gunsmiths. One son in particular, James M. Graham of Frankfort [state capitol] in Franklin Co., Kentucky, I believe was the maker of the "Davy Crockett" rifle at the Alamo signed "J. M. Graham." While I have not had that gun in hand, I have seen other Franklin Co. guns with the same moon inlays at the forestock wedge positions, and there is no other J. M. Graham gunsmith working at that time in any of our modern references. I don't really know what Graham family member owned this horn, but I think it was made in Franklin County by a craftsman who wanted to make a fine horn and had seen a York County horn at some time in his past... so he made a frontier version of it with KY's bulbous butt plug with integral nose button and raised ring for strap attachment on spout. We'll never know for sure the history of this horn, but it's fun to speculate... especially when we have small tid-bits of its history... and then we can fill in the rest to our liking!

Shelby Gallien







« Last Edit: April 05, 2024, 10:34:21 PM by Tanselman »

Offline Levi Garrett

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Re: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2024, 05:19:12 PM »
Shelby, nice horn. Iím always watching eBay for powder horns and it seems like about 90 percent of them are just plain junk that most of their owners think are very valuable. I somehow failed to see this one. I always appreciate your knowledge and insight on items and the fact that you willingly share that knowledge. My thanks to you

Offline Jeff Murray

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Re: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2024, 04:48:38 AM »
Nice horn, especially with some history.

Offline Keith Zimmerman

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Re: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2024, 07:03:01 AM »
I like the paneled spout.  There is some nice extra work there that that really makes the horn stand out.

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2024, 03:01:31 PM »
 I am glad it went to someone who appreciates it not only for the architecture but the history that goes with it. Also to be able to add to its provenance.

   Tim

Offline rich pierce

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Re: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2024, 04:05:48 PM »
Yeah, was going to bid but not as much in my wheelhouse as yours, Shelby. Glad you got it.
Andover, Vermont

Offline jdm

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Re: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2024, 02:18:04 AM »
It is so rare that any history comes down with any of this old junk we love . It's a real treat if we get even a morsel  and in your collecting field to boot.  Congratulations  .  Jim
JIM

Offline Tanselman

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Re: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2024, 05:05:09 AM »
The horn arrived today, and after looking at it several times, I realized the front side of the horn was tacked at one time for decoration. I've seen a lot of horns, including a number of Tansels, heavily tacked around the edge of the butt plug, or at times around the base of the horn body, but I've NEVER seen any horn tacked across its middle section.

There are five tack holes, now filled with tiny wood plugs, in a shallow "W" pattern across the horn's front side. Back side was left plain. At first I didn't know what the small spots were, until I started seeing lightly embossed circles around them... the edges of the tack heads that cut slightly into the horn surface. Since there are a couple of other spots on the horn's front side, I did a 30 second "high quality" sketch of the horn showing the location of five old tack holes. Not an earthshaking discovery, but something I've never seen before. It must have looked neat back when carried, with a string of bright brass tack heads running across the front of the horn. I bet none of you have seen a horn decorated in that manner!

P.S. I posted this finding just so Tim Crosby would have something new to experiment with!

Shelby Gallien





Offline TDM

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Re: A Kentucky Powder Horn with a Partial History
« Reply #8 on: Today at 06:39:55 AM »
Fine piece of history.